Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eriochilus petricola at Granite Falls

This was a new experience for me - visiting Granite Falls. My friend Kirsten had told me about this place, but I could not imagine what it looked like, or why it is here.

It is within the Morton National Park, and that Park is centred on the Shoalhaven Valley, and is dominated by a huge Sandstone plateau. So, what is Granite Falls doing there?

Seemingly it is a geological "intrusion" 
into the surrounding Sandstone plateau.
This is a composite image, and because of the steep angle
of the rocks, my images only match if put together like this.
Igmnore the black surrounds.
Also the grey mass in the lower left foreground
is part of the lookout structure. Ignore that too.
Just follow the water line from the top to the pool, 
way down at the base.
Granite Falls (composite image)
Well, it is there. I have seen it with my own eyes. And it is very strange indeed. Not as steep sided as the usual "Falls" in Morton National Park. But impressive none-the-less.

Also strange was this amazing blue fungus. Small, with a high crowned cap, and a blue stem underneath (visible in the second image). It seems likely that it is a type of Entoloma. My foot was playing up, and I did not take the images I ought have taken - gill shots, etc. I hope to go back next week.

 Note the blue stem underneath.
The day I went there, with Alan Stephenson, it was drizzly and as I discovered, the rock shelf above the Falls is dangerously slippery.

However, it was worth the effort in carefully negotiating this seemingly innoculous rock shelf. The smooth surface of the granite rock was very slippery and potentially dangerous.

We found these plants:

As the name suggests, this plant loves rock shelves.
It has short stubby hairs on the margins of the lateral sepals
(the large creamy white organs)
The lateral petals ("Bunny Ears") are clearly hairy.
Eriochilus petricola
Its diagnostic feature is the leaf present at flowering time
(but its cousin E cucullata often has
a leaf forming when it flowers).
More importantly, the leaf of this species is red underneath,
not green.
(click to enlarge image)
That Eriochilus is a new species for me.
The more common species in my area is the Parsons Bands Orchid
or "Bunnies Ears".

This ia  wonderful colony of these tiny Sundews.
Drosera spatulata in situ on shallow moss bed over rock
 Close up of Drosera spatulata
Unfortunately they were only in bud, not in flower.
If I do go back I shall update this post 
with more, and hopefully better, photos.


mick said...

Very interesting composite photo. What software did you use to put it together, please? That granite looks slippery even in the photo! Sundews I can possibly match - orchids never! They are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

there is also Rulingia hermanniifolia there, and Broad-headed snakes. It is absoluntely gorgeous. Hope you also went upstairs throught the rainforest to the lookout and mountain heath country


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick and Kirsten
Thanks both of you.
Kirsten, I will speak to you before I try to go again. Last time it was a surprise visit. A.S. spur of the moment alteration to the plan.
I saw signs about the Broad-headed Snake, but I shall leave that to you.
Mick, simple Photoshop work. Overlaying is not that hard, but one needs to adjust the "canvas size" first, before overlaying second image.
If you can adjust the opacity (transparency) while doing the adjustment, it helps get alignment right. Once correctly positioned, then return "opacity" to 100%.
There are other Open Source software (free programs) options which will do the same for you. "Gimp" is one I have heard of.
Yes - everything, but everything, was slippery. I hope to return on dry days (or dry week preferably).
I'd like to see your Sundews. Gorgeous plants, and also check for Drosera Bugs
on the tall ones. Even small ones give opportunity for interesting Macro shots of trapped insects

catmint said...

Hi Denis, looks like a wonderful bushwalk. The blue fungus is extraordinary, I have never seen anything like it. I look forward to your update. cheers, cm

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Catmint.
Yes it was a lovely place, but I had hurt my foot (previously), and that made it hard getting around.

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis,

Granite Falls is one of my favourite places, too. But the entire area is amazing. Further up Twelve Mile Road is a lovely rainforest walk and a lookout - but close your eyes to the horrible wound in the earth that is new. It is the Conjola Bends roadworks that was typical RTA overkill.

Past Granite Falls I have been spoiled several times by having a lyrebird display his beautiful tail for me and sing his heart out. All within 10 yards of me. Amazing. No photos though, I didn't used to have a camera.

The geology of Granite Falls is different, isn't it. I have often stood on the platform (was better before the platform but not very safe) and drifted back millions of years. It has that affect. Kirst and I had one particularly fabulous day there with the geology books. Sounds boring but it was anything but boring. That was the day she found the Rulingia which was the icing on the cake.

I do love Granite Falls. And in spring it is a wonderland.


Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Wendy for your poetic endorsement of the joys of Granite Falls.
I will "log" your comment about Springtime there too.
Shame it is so far away, for me. But some places are worth the effort.

Denis Wilson said...

Peter, a fungi-expert from Germany has confirmed the Entoloma ID - see comments on the next Blog posting for the second Eriochilus.